The 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) would be kicking off in April this year, but with just two months left for the premier T20 tournament to start, all eight franchises will be looking to plug the gaps at the mini-auction on Thursday in Chennai.
The "mini-auction" this year would see 292 players going under the hammer and all these cricketers have been shortlisted by the eight franchises. However, all the teams do not sit on the same boat and some of the franchises can take it easy in this auction after retaining most of their lineup from the 2020 IPL. A total of 164 Indian players, 125 overseas players, and 3 players from associate nations will be up for grabs in the mini-auction.
Rs 2 crore is the highest reserve price and two Indian players - Harbhajan Singh and Kedar Jadhav - and eight overseas players - Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Shakib Al Hasan, Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Liam Plunkett, Jason Roy, and Mark Wood have chosen to be slotted in the highest bracket. 12 players are on the auction list with a base price of Rs 1.5 crore. Hanuma Vihari and Umesh Yadav are the two Indian players in the list of 11 cricketers with a base price of Rs 1 crore.
On the eve of the auction, a look at all the eight franchises and how they are lined up.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
Talking about Royal Challengers Bangalore led by Virat Kohli, the side has 35.4 crores available and they have 11 slots that can be filled in this auction. From these 11, 3 can be overseas players. Before the auction, the side decided to let go of the likes of Chris Morris, Moeen Ali, Aaron Finch and now the side would be looking to add some quality foreign stars to their lineup. The side can look to rope in Glenn Maxwell to lend solidarity to the middle order and the franchise will also be able to have some firepower after AB de Villiers.
The side may also have a look at Shakib Al Hasan in order to have a quality all-rounder and looking at the Indian pitches, a spinning all-rounder may just be the need of the hour. Among the Indian players, the franchise may look to rope in the likes of Kedar Jadhav or Arjun Tendulkar to lend more solidarity to the lower-order. The side had managed to reach the playoffs of IPL 2020, but it lost the Eliminator clash against SunRisers Hyderabad.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK)
The MS Dhoni-led side has been one of the most consistent franchises in the history of IPL, but the 2020 edition of the tournament was a season to forget for the CSK camp as the team failed to reach the playoffs for the very first time. The experienced players in the likes of Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Imran Tahir have shown their class, but the last edition saw age catching up with these stars, and the tag of "Dad's Army" started to weigh in.
The franchise has released Harbhajan Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Murali Vijay, and Piyush Chawla from their squad. Heading into the auction, the side has a fund of 19.9 crore and it can look to add six more players to their squad. This is the one franchise that will look to add more of the Indian stars as the franchise can afford to buy just one overseas player in the auction. England's Dawid Malan may be the one overseas star that this franchise goes after in order to give solidarity to the top-order.
Kings XI Punjab
KXIP is all set to go big in this auction as they have the biggest purse of Rs 53.20 crore. Glenn Maxwell, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sheldon Cottrell, and Jimmy Neesham have all been shown the exit door and after RCB, this franchise will look to rope in high-profile overseas stars. Aaron Finch or Alex Hales maybe the ones this side goes after to add some firepower to their top-order after KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. Finch or Hales can also serve as a backup to Chris Gayle if the Windies batter gets injured in the 2021 edition.
With Maxwell being shown the door, KXIP will look for an overseas player in the middle order and this vacancy may be filled by all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan. Australia's Steve Smith may also be picked by this franchise and he may also serve as a good fiddle to skipper KL Rahul. In terms of spinners, the franchise may look to rope in Harbhajan to add some experience and the off-spinner may work wonders with coach Anil Kumble and rookie spinner Ravi Bishnoi.
In terms of pacers, KXIP may look to buy Jhye Richardson or Mark Wood to give some respite to Mohammed Shami. Along with Shami, Arshdeep Singh is set to feature in the playing XI so the side will look to add an overseas star who can play all 14 matches and give some solidarity to the pace attack.
Before the auction, the side made the biggest possible release as they let go of Steve Smith, and Sanju Samson was announced as the skipper. The franchise also released the likes of Oshane Thomas and Tom Curran and as a result, the side would enter the auction with a salary cap of Rs 34.85 crore and they can add a maximum of eight players to their squad among which three can be overseas players.
As Smith has been released, the team would look to rope in a gun middle-order batsman and this franchise may also go all out for the likes of Dawid Malan or Glenn Maxwell. In a surprise move, the side can also go after Marnus Labuschagne to add some solidarity to their middle order.
Talking about bowlers, the side has a spin bowling department covered with the likes of Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, and Mayank Markande. Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes are some high-profile names in terms of pacers, but the side may just play a gamble and try to rope in Tim Southee to add more firepower to the bowling scheme of things.
Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals, SunRisers Hyderabad, and Kolkata Knight Riders
All these four franchises have retained most of the squad that featured in IPL 2020 and they can take it easy in the upcoming edition. All these four franchises may just look to add good quality Indian players to their side as overseas recruits are taken care of already.
In terms of overseas players, these four franchises know who will start in the playing XI, so these teams may just look to add some backups if something happens to their first-choice playing XI.